I took part in the Forum on Open GeoData hosted by the Open Knowledge Foundation at the Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research.
At the forum I spoke about our collaborative partnership with the Research & Innovation group at Ordnance Survey and mentioned our aim to develop a model for free, non-commercial access to the OS's GIS data for projects like Urban Tapestries. The recent announcement by the BBC, Channel 4 & the BFI about the adoption of a Creative Commons license for non-commercial access to and use of their Creative Archive project coincided with Proboscis' submission of a first draft Creative Commons license to the Ordnance Survey for consideration. It seems that now is an excellent time for developing public policy positions and lobbying central government for wider public access to data owned and collected by public agencies and entities owned by the government.
Contributing to the establishment of public access to GIS data has been one of Urban Tapestries' (and now Social Tapestries') project goals and was the foundation of our agreement to collaborate with the OS back in 2003. In drafting up the license I had the benefit of advice from Programme in Comparative Law at the University of Oxford, who led the project to harmonise Creative Commons with UK Law.
An MP3 recording of the forum is available here.
Proboscis has established a new membership based scheme as a forum for bringing the results of the Social Tapestries experiments to relevant government and industry organisations. This forum will additionally support some of the experiments and bring together representatives from business and the public sector to both learn from our research and help define future directions. There are three levels (bronze, silver, gold) with varying access to private research reports, Creative Labs, Bodystorming Experiences and observing trials and tests.
For further details please contact Giles Lane [giles at proboscis.org.uk]
Proboscis is continuing to develop a series of Social Tapestries experiments:
Architecture Week 2005
Proboscis is collaborating with Arts Council England to launch the new version of Urban Tapestries in June 2005 with a series of commissioned architectural 'tours' through London. The Ordnance Survey has provided 100 square kilometres of geographic information covering the whole of Central London, and we will be experimenting with both traditional drawn maps and satellite photographs overlaid with the pockets and threads created by the participants. This 'trial' will mark our largest so far, with members of the public invited to register for an account and to be able to author their own threads as well as view ones created by others through the new web interface. During Architecture Week itself, we also hope to run a small trial with a group of people with physical impairments mapping access issues and barriers in the city.
A Visiting Fellowship with Proboscis by Natalie Jeremijenko ('Robotic Feral Public Authoring') is continuing apace. The experiment will attempt to bridge Urban Tapestries' spatial annotation abilities with Natalie's re-configurations of toy robots for social activist uses such as pollution sensing.The Fellowship is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Our collaboration with EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Lausanne, with whom we will be using UT to study semantic models for spatialised communications among groups, is also continuing to develop. EPFL intend to develop a smart algorithm for improving the ability of systems like UT to alert users to geo-annotations relevant to their context and situation. We are anticipating running several small trials over the next year in partnership with EPFL.
Eyes on the Street
Proboscis is developing a project with the Community Development Foundation and Citizens Online to develop issues of neighbourliness in social housing and community safety, looking at the potential of public authoring technologies like Urban Tapestries to create new modes of local knowledge creation and exchange, and its implications for community development.
John Paul Bichard is developing a research scenario and prototype for social gaming based around the concepts and capabilities of public authoring.
Nick West is developing a research scenario and prototype for a car-based audio annotation system.
The Urban Tapestries software platform has now been completely re-written and we are in the process of integrating and alpha testing the new web interface. The new system will make available much of the complete functionality and features researched and proposed over the last two years, as well as separate logging and analysis of patterns and usage that will be accessible to users.
A fully featured web client is in the last stages of completion and alpha testing. A period of beta testing during May will see additional features and functionality gradually brought online with the aim of launching public access to the new web interface in mid-June to coincide with the launch of Architecture Week 2005.
New Java Mobile Client
Proboscis has begun development of a new generic Java client for mobile devices, with versions prepared initially for two devices the Orange SPV M2000 (GPRS/WiFi/Windows Mobile OS) and the Motorola A1000 (3G/Symbian UIQ OS). We anticipate have prototypes working in June 2005 for a series of small field trials running throughout the remainder of the year.